ILNews

New voter ID lawsuit filed

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The League of Women Voters of Indiana filed a lawsuit today in Marion County challenging the state's three-year-old voter identification statute recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

At 2 p.m. today, the organization filed the suit with the Marion Superior Court against Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, arguing that it has the standing to sue on behalf of its members because the state statute burdens potential voters and would cause the league to have to spend "precious resources" assisting voters without the required ID.

This lawsuit comes following the April 28 ruling from the nation's highest court in William Crawford, et al. v. Marion County Election Board, 128 S. Ct. 1610 (2008), which upheld the state law that is considered the strictest in the nation. That ruling rejected the facial challenge, but left the door open for as-applied challenges in federal court and those involving state constitutional claims.

But that case won't have much impact here, according to Indianapolis attorney William Groth who is co-counsel on this suit. The league is only raising Indiana constitutional challenges, which makes this different, he said.

"Crawford only minimally factors in," Groth said. "It discusses the law, how it operates, and sets the legal landscape for us, but doesn't have any impact."

Specifically, the suit says the 2005-passed Indiana voter ID law violates the Indiana Constitution's Article 2, Section 2, which states citizens only need to meet the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in order to cast a vote in-person. Any change the legislature might make must come through a constitutional amendment, not a statute, which didn't happen here, the suit says.

The suit doesn't name any specific plaintiffs, but does mention two specific election examples where individuals were restricted from voting because of the law.

One example happened during the 2007 municipal election when at least 34 voters arrived to vote without the required photo ID and were given provisional ballots - only two produced that ID later to have their votes count. The second example occurred during the May 2008 primary when 12 elderly St. Joseph County nuns were not even allowed to cast provisional ballots because they didn't have the required ID.

"Our argument will turn on whether the voter ID law imposes a new substantive requirement, or whether it's merely regulating the mechanics of the voting process," Groth said. "It's a subtle and nuanced distinction, but our Indiana caselaw supports that this must be a constitutional amendment."

The suit requests a speedy hearing for a declaratory relief in time for the Nov. 4 general election, though Groth expects the controversial issues involved here will require this case to be appealed and that could take longer.

Read the June 25-July 8, 2008 issue of Indiana Lawyer for a more in-depth story on this lawsuit, another in federal court, and others across the nation challenging voter identification requirements.
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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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